A history of Armagh minor finals

Armagh compete in their sixth ever All-Ireland Minor final on Sunday afternoon as they take on Derry in Omagh. The Orchard County are hoping to land the Tom Markham Cup for just the third time in their history.

Brendan McCann takes a look at the last five finals Armagh have taken part in.

1949

After defeating Antrim, Derry and Donegal to claim the provincial crown, the Orchard County overpowered Sligo in an All-Ireland semi-final in Lurgan to reach a first All-Ireland Minor final.

Played on 25th September in Croke Park against the Kingdom, it was a most pleasing game of football.  Captain Sean Blaney was instrumental for Armagh, crowned by a second-half goal. 

It was Blaney who got the scoring underway with a point, before a blocked clearance rebounded into the Armagh goal. The Orchard youngsters also had the adversity of a penalty miss to manage during the opening period.

Teddy Connolly and Sean Smith points had Armagh level before late Kerry points left them 1-2 to 0-3 ahead. The lads in green and gold increased their advantage early after the restart after wasted opportunities for Armagh.

One of two fisted points from Brian McGrane encouraged the young men in orange. A Blaney goal, followed by a brace of points, steered his team to a well-merited inaugural All-Ireland Minor Football success.

Armagh were also well served by Jack Bratten, John McKnight, Frank Kernan and Tom McConville in defence. Sean Smith was often prominent at corner-forward.

1951

Armagh defeated Antrim, Donegal, Fermanagh and Cavan in receiving the Ulster nomination for the All-Ireland semi-final, where they overcame Kerry in a replay.

16th December nowadays is an opportunity to visit Croke Park to see Santa Claus. But in 1951, it was All-Ireland Minor Final day when Armagh faced Roscommon. 

What proved to be a successful Cavan appeal, saw it necessary that Armagh would replay the Ulster Final, against the Breffnimen, after previously defeating Fermanagh in the decider and coming through two games against Kerry.

Armagh defeated Cavan 3-1 to 1-4 . A week later they made the trip to Croker, which was ironically experiencing summer-like conditions.

Both counties enjoyed periods of dominance, but Roscommon struck an extremely early blow with a goal after thirty seconds.

The Orchard response was strong, hitting the front at the end of the first quarter when Tom Dillon beat three defenders before finishing to the net, on the back of points from John Crossey and Patsy Kieran’s.

The Rossies overturned the Armagh advantage before the break, leading narrowly 1-4 to 1-3.  Roscommon dominated the third quarter, piercing the Armagh defence to ensure that the Tom Markham Cup would enjoy Christmas dinner nearer Athleague than Armagh.

Brian Seeley, Des Skelton, Brendan O’Neill, John Crossey and Patsy Kierans all served their county well in this decider.

Armagh compete in their sixth ever All-Ireland Minor final on Sunday afternoon as they take on Derry in Omagh

1957

Armagh started off the 1957 campaign by scoring nine goals against a beleaguered Derry in Lurgan, capturing the Ulster title after further wins over Down, Tyrone and ultimately Donegal.

The Orchard County edged a six-goal thriller in the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry to reach the final. Armagh faced Meath on 22nd September in Croke Park, with the Royal County hoping to record a first title at this grade.

The green and golds were a tall, talented side and the game saw Armagh try to get to grips with midfielder Jimmy Clinch, who proved a thorn in Armagh’s side.

Armagh had to alter their tactics, bringing Kevin Halpenny and Seamus Mallon out of the forward line in bids to curb Clinch’s influence.

A third minute goal put Meath in control and when a Clinch free from distance found the net, it was a long way back for the Orchard, trailing 2-4 to 0-2 at half-time.

When a third shot pierced the Armagh net in the 36th minute, the game was clinched. Seamus McConville, Brendan Donaghy, Jimmy Murphy (who recorded all of Armagh’s total) and Seamus Mallon battled valiantly in a 0-4 to 3-9 defeat.

Armagh compete in their sixth ever All-Ireland Minor final on Sunday afternoon as they take on Derry in Omagh
Photo Credit: Finbar Burns

1992 

On their way to the All-Ireland Final, victories were secured over Down, Tyrone, Donegal and Roscommon respectively. Armagh entered the arena of Croke Park on 20th September in great hope, hoping to gain revenge over Meath for the decider loss thirty-five years previous.

Meath fought to deny Armagh, but the pairing of Barry O’Hagan and Paul McGrane controlled midfield, creating a 0-6 to 0-3 advantage at the break.

Only one score for the leaders came from play, after goal attempts from Declan Toner and Des Mackin were thwarted. A Trevor Giles goal in the 49th minute breathed life into the Meath challenge.

Armagh responded well with replies from Diarmuid Marsden and Paul McNulty, which seemed to be enough to secure a second title at the grade.

However, Armagh experienced heartbreak in the second minute of injury-time, when Michael Farrelly finished a quick free from Giles to the net.

Emyln Bratten, Kevin O’Hagan and Michael Hanratty were strong in defence for the Armagh team. Neil McGleenan and Marsden recorded the majority of scores from dead balls in the forward-line in a 0-10 to 2-5 loss.

Armagh compete in their sixth ever All-Ireland Minor final on Sunday afternoon as they take on Derry in Omagh

2009

Tyrone, Monaghan and Donegal were downed before Armagh outclassed Kildare and Kerry to gain a final berth.

The minors wanted to emulate the Senior and u21 county teams who had captured All-Ireland titles earlier in the decade, by winning a first Minor title in 60 years.

Mayo’s best efforts were met with great saves from Stephen O’Reilly between the Armagh posts. Rory Grugan and Eugene McVerry had Armagh ahead early on, but Mayo peered the deficit back.

The game was nip and tuck throughout the half which unsurprisingly ended level at 0-4 each. Andrew Murnin and Robbie Tasker were instrumental for Armagh though dogged Mayo went ahead early after the turnaround.

The third quarter saw Armagh record seven wides, as they gradually gained control of the play. Late scores from Thomas McAlinden, Peter Carragher and Robbie Tasker saw Armagh crowned champions on a 0-10 to 0-7 verdict.